PIL seeks safe zones for women

A group of eight lawyers has filed a joint public interest litigation (PIL) petition in the Madras High Court expressing serious concern over the absence of safety for women in the State, especially when they travel for work or studies during odd hours. The lawyers insisted on creating “women safety zones” manned by police officials and social welfare officers near every major bus stand as well as railway station in the State.

The petition has been listed for hearing before the first Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani and Justice M. Duraiswamy on Thursday. Advocates Kanimozhi Mathi, G. Kanthimathi, N. Ramamani, S. Vasuki, V. Rajeshwari, S. Indumathi, D. Gana Esther Dorothy and P. Subbramanian had filed the petition stating that the women safety zones could be used as a place for overnight stay of travelling women.

They sought for a direction to the State government to establish all women hostels in major cities and towns, by replicating the model adopted by Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), so that they could serve as a safe place for short stay of women who travel in connection with their employment or education. In their common affidavit, the petitioners complained that the police do not give due attention to sexual harassment complaints lodged by women.

“The women victims are put through serious difficulties and ill-treatment by the police,” the advocates alleged and recalled to have sent a representation to the government on November 28 with a series of suggestions which included maintenance of a register in every police station to keep a track on complaints lodged by women. Similarly, hygienic lobby space with drinking and toilet facilities should also be provided for the women in the police stations, they said.

The petitioners also wanted the higher officials to ensure that women victims were handled with utmost respect in the police stations and qualified lawyers were engaged in every station to provide legal assistance to such victims. “Things have become far worse than the past. It is highly dismaying and painful to see the modesty of a woman under assault in a casual manner and this has become a routine,” the petitioners averred in their affidavit.

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